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School of Education 2002-2004 Undergraduate Online Bulletin Table of Contents


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New Programs in Teacher Education at Bloomington

Indiana University has been involved in preparing students to become teachers since 1851. During 1998, the School of Education in Bloomington celebrated its 90th anniversary. Among the activities associated with this celebration was a series of invited lectures by noted educators who discussed educational issues and trends. These conversations helped extend our thinking about the nature of education, as well as the place and purpose of our programs.

Teacher education has a central role in the discussion of educational purposes within the school. More than most research universities, the preparation of teachers is a key component of the school. We have devoted significant resources to our undergraduate programs in teacher education.

Obviously, much has changed from the time of IU’s initial efforts to prepare teachers in the 19th century; from the founding of the school in 1908, continuing with the first students who graduated from the school in 1924, and now as we approach the 21st century. The campus as a whole has expanded and become one of the premiere research universities in the country and the world, and the School of Education has itself developed a national and international reputation for our graduate and undergraduate offerings.

One effort that has been constant throughout our history, however, is a commitment to create and sustain high-quality, rigorous, engaging courses and programs for students aspiring to be teachers at the P-12 level. A commitment to high-quality programs in turn requires that faculty and students in the School of Education, with our colleagues from other units of Indiana University and from the public schools, engage in conversations that lead to novel initiatives, alternative directions, and new ways of thinking. Those intellectual and practical conversations are essential for ensuring the quality of our programs in teacher education.

Another reality that both faculty members and students can count on is that education—both as a field and as an activity—is perpetually evolving. New ideas, new social circumstances, changing demographic patterns, alternative perspectives and visions, and challenges to the conventional wisdom assure the continued reconsideration of education and programs that prepare future teachers. This helps make the activities associated with the study of education and the preparation of teachers lively, exciting, and challenging.

Our collective commitment to the generation of exemplary teacher education programs created through new initiatives, directions, and ways of thinking has been abundantly clear throughout the last five years. This bulletin supplement provides an outline of our most recent efforts to reconsider our programs, courses, and policies regarding teacher education. Our contemporary efforts to chart a new direction for teacher education began in the fall of 1994 as the teacher education community came together to reconsider teacher education as a primary mission of the school. Initial discussions focused on the diverse ways in which the preparation of teachers might be conceptualized, the history of teacher education reform, and the commitments that should accompany new directions in teacher education. From the very beginning, all of the people involved—faculty from Education and other units of Indiana University, graduate students, undergraduates, P-12 teachers, and others—were encouraged to be inve ntive and creative. Our efforts focused on raising and then answering two broad, fundamentally important questions: “What should teacher education at Indiana University be committed to?” and, based on the articulation of that commitment, “What should our programs look like?” These questions and others that followed from them provided routes for rethinking teacher education on the Bloomington campus. We continue to be committed to pushing on and beyond the conventional boundaries of teaching and teacher education, as we develop and refine courses, field experiences, and activities for students that will be intellectually engaging, practically beneficial, and high in academic quality.

Central to our discussions about the direction of teacher education was the gradual development, refinement, and eventual adoption of a set of principles that would define, in comprehensive ways, the directions that programs would pursue. In February 1996, after an extensive set of open meetings, public forums, school-wide retreats, and small group discussions, the teacher education community adopted six principles that provide a framework within which the creation of new and revised programs has proceeded. Those principles outline commitments to the importance of:

  1. Community
    Effective teacher preparation requires that participants develop a sense of community through engagement in shared activities and issues. The longevity of relationships required to establish community has several advantages for all its members. It brings a coherence to programs, fosters an appreciation of the power of cooperative effort, and encourages a dialogue that promotes the continual rejuvenation of teacher education. Consequently, all our teacher education programs must foster a sense of community among their students, among faculty members, between faculty members and students, and between the university and the schools.

  2. Critical Reflection
    Effective teachers reflect critically on the moral, political, social, and economic dimensions of education. This requires an understanding of the multiple contexts in which schools function, an appreciation of diverse perspectives on educational issues, and a commitment to democratic forms of interaction. Consequently, all our teacher education programs must encourage students to develop their own social and educational visions that are connected to critically reflective practice.
  3. Intellectual, Personal, and Professional Growth
    Teachers are more than technicians or purveyors of information. Accordingly, they must be committed to lifelong intellectual, personal, and professional growth. Both faculty and students must continually develop these habits of mind, requiring that our programs stimulate the exploration and development of the full range of human capabilities. Consequently, all our teacher education programs must foster intellectual curiosity and encourage an appreciation of learning through the sustained analysis of ideas, values, and practices; and through intuition, imagination, and aesthetic experience.

  4. Meaningful Experience
    Teachers must be effective in actual educational settings. Thus, our teacher education programs must maintain or create experiences in schools and on campus that will assist in the development of their expertise in those settings. Students should be expected to act as thoughtful, reflective, caring practitioners as part of those experiences; and instructors must be able to assist in the development and assessment of their abilities in such settings. Consequently, all our teacher education programs must include early and continuous engagement—through direct immersion or simulation—with the multiple realities of children, teaching, and schools.

  5. Knowledge and Multiple Forms of Understanding
    Effective teachers possess a well-grounded knowledge of the content areas that are central to their teaching. They also have an in-depth comprehension of the forms of knowledge embodied in the traditional disciplines, of the interdisciplinary nature of inquiry, and of the multiple forms of understanding that individual students bring to the classroom. Consequently, all our teacher education programs must help students acquire a “practical wisdom” that integrates forms of understanding, skilled action in and outside classrooms, and a particular sensitivity to the diversity of students.

  6. Personalized Learning
    Good teachers build on their students’ interests, orientation to learning, and hopes. Similarly, teacher education programs should offer their students opportunities to individualize and personalize their preparation as teachers. Consequently, all our teacher education programs must give students a significant measure of control over how, when, and where their learning takes place, thus enabling their interests and values to shape major portions of their work.
In addition to the adoption and incorporation of this set of principles, the teacher education community has made inquiry practices and an inquiry orientation to programs, courses, and activities (in university classes and in field experiences in the public schools) a fundamental, undergirding element of our current reform efforts. In a general way, this commitment means that undergraduate instructors will not so much “tell” students what it means to be an effective teacher, but provide guidance and intellectual and practical entry points into the range of literature and scholarly debates that educational studies encompass. Students, as a result of this inquiry orientation, will develop the understandings that are necessary to become effective teachers. “ Inquiry” and “practice,” “research” and teaching,” “thinking” and “doing,” will then be integrated concepts and activities rather than oppositional ones.

The specific process of developing new teacher education programs based on these six principles and on the commitment to inquiry began in the spring of 1996. In the near future, all our programs will be either significantly modified versions of previous programs or, in many cases, new programs that include courses created as a result of our collective efforts to rethink teacher education. All programs must be approved by the Teacher Education Council, the School of Education Policy Council, and the regional campuses of the IU system.

The following programs are new programs or have been revised:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Democracy, Diversity, and Social Justice—an elementary education program
  • Praxis: A Program for Innovative Education—an elementary education program
  • Theory Into Practice—an elementary education program
  • Teaching All Learners: A Program in Special and Elementary Education
Groups of faculty members, students, and teachers are continuing to create additional new and revised programs. Information about these programs will be made available following their completion and approval. These initiatives will include two new programs in secondary education: Anchoring Secondary Teacher Education in Student Beliefs and Knowledge, and Teachers as Agents of Inquiry and Social Justice; a new English education offering; a new middle school program; and a revised program in art education.

Several important changes and innovations have already taken place in teacher education at Bloomington, and other innovations are forthcoming: a new spirit of collegiality and community is in evidence; there has been, and continues to be, hard, sustained, thoughtful work on the part of everyone involved in undergraduate education; and an effort to reconsider the level of intellectual engagement and academic quality expected of our students has been undertaken that dovetails with our efforts over the last five years to reconceptualize teacher education.

Faculty, associate instructors, and staff in the School of Education look forward to working with students as we begin implementing our new programs. Our individual and collective efforts continue to be focused on developing the best possible experiences for students, and on working to enhance the quality of educational activities completed by our students, and ultimately on improving the quality of education for P-12 pupils. We are eager to begin this new phase of what is a 150-year institutional commitment of Indiana University: to offer exemplary educational opportunities for prospective teachers and to enhance the quality of educational experiences in classrooms throughout Indiana, the nation, and the world.

Students already enrolled in programs should consult the 1998-2000 bulletin.

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